Nicole Johänntgen & Jack DeSalvo in Duo
Text: Stefan Pieper
Zurich, July 21, 2020 | Nicole Johänntgen, born in Saarland and now living in Switzerland, met guitarist Jack DeSalvo in New York – the new CD “Lumens” was created in a spontaneous session.
In a combo, the role of the saxophone is often clearly defined: soloist always at the forefront, it’s about solo presence and often – just because of the volume and pitch – about dominance. In a duo, especially with a naturally much “quieter” dialogue partner, things can look very different. Nicole Johänntgen is definitely predestined for the right measure on her alto saxophone when she meets the experienced New York guitarist Jack DeSalvo on the new album “Lumens”. By the way, the two met at a free jazz session – the opposite of two in the studio!
The Swiss citizen does not have to deny her latent leadership role, because that alone results from her good gift of letting a smooth line flow with crystal-clear intonation and elegantly low-vibrato tone. Which alone allows the imaginatively composed pieces on “Lumens” to come together to form a smooth line. The fact that so much subtlety is revealed here, that many imaginary stories without words take shape in the imagination and the listener is invited to be carried away into emotional spaces, that alone may be due to the curiosity of the Swiss citizen who has been doing this in recent years The possibilities of expressing her instrument have been explored in many contexts and, above all, have been emphatically filled with individual personality.
Guitarist JackDeSalvo provides a reliably transparent harmonic framework for this, provides for interventions that speak out of themselves and comes out of cover again and again in filigree improvisations.
Quite a bit oriented towards Bossa Nova figures, the guitar pulsates in the opening piece, about which the saxophone fantasizes in wide awake arches. A charming announcement by Nicole Johänntgen follows afterwards when it comes to a “good morning song”. Such a song-like, yet subtly designed directness changes with more elaborate forms, for example in the longer pieces “Has Never said a word” or Reappearing Sun “. But here, too, there remains a perfect “commitment to each other”, which came about spontaneously.
Unseen Rain 2020